The UK is to continue is membership of the single European payments area (SEPA) post-Brexit, allowing consumers and businesses to send and receive money anywhere across 36 countries.
All major UK payment service providers, including banks and non-banks, use SEPA to make payments to and from Europe in euros.
The scheme, which has been in place since 2002, is governed by strict rules that allow participants sending money to know exactly when the funds will be received. It is also significantly cheaper and more reliable than any other method of sending funds cross-border.
The UK’s membership of the scheme has always been automatically derived from our EU membership. But with a possible no-deal exit approaching and with no mechanism for automatic continued participation, UK Finance applied for continued membership in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The European Payments Council (EPC), which administers SEPA, has set a Participation Criteria that allows for non-EEA participation and UK Finance had to demonstrate a “strong economic and legal relationship with the EU”, along with stringent market and operational criteria, and regulatory requirements.
After a deliberation process, the EPC confirmed in March that the UK’s participation in SEPA is set to continue.
A UK Finance statement said: “This is much-appreciated clarity, not only for those in the UK who use SEPA to send money abroad, but also for those across Europe who make payments to the UK. If SEPA membership had not been retained consumers, businesses and corporates on both sides of the Channel would have faced serious difficulties making their everyday payments; potentially missing billing deadlines, mortgage payments, or other crucial transactions.”